Making decisions about managing your risk

Hear Genetic Counsellor, Andrew Cuthbert explain what options are available for managing risk and the risks and benefits for each option.

Things to consider

When weighing up the options to manage your risk, you may wish to think about:

How likely you are to develop breast cancer

Specialists can estimate your risk of developing breast cancer over your lifetime. They can also estimate your risk of developing the disease over the next 10 years. This is important, because risk changes as you get older. Knowing your estimated risk over different periods of your life may help you decide what steps you want to take and when.

The benefits and risks of each option

All options to manage your risk come with benefits and risks. For example, while risk-reducing drugs can lower your chances of developing breast cancer by just over a third, they have side effects and can increase the risk of cancer of the womb (endometrial cancer) and blood clots. You’ll find information on risks and benefits in this guide.

How you feel about prevention versus treatment

Some women with a family history place a strong value on taking action now to reduce their chances of developing breast cancer in the future. Others may place stronger value on their life not being affected at present, preferring to take little or no action unless diagnosed with breast cancer. Exploring how you feel about prevention versus treatment will help to weigh up the options available to you.

Your life choices and plans

Some management options could have an effect on your fertility or ability to breast feed. If you are considering starting a family or you have a young family, this is something you may want to consider when weighing up your options. There may be other priorities or life plans that you have that could influence your choices too.

Care you can expect

To help you make decisions about how you manage your increased risk of breast cancer, your care should include:

  • An offer of psychological counselling or support
  • Written information, including about:
    • breast awareness
    • lifestyle advice to reduce your risk
    • support groups or voluntary organisations
    • details of studies or clinical trials that you could take part in
    • Risks and benefits of options available to you
Related information
Find out the likely options for managing your risk, based on your risk level and age

Read more

Find out what options are available to men with an increased risk of breast cancer

Read more

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